Now, Machail Yatra in Kishtwar, Budha Amarnath Yatra in Poonch suspended
After Amarnath Yatra, the 43-day Machail Mata Yatra in Kishtwar district was also suspended on Saturday due to security reasons.
The pilgrimage has been suspended temporarily due to security reasons, Kishtwar deputy magistrate Angrez Singh Rana told HT over the phone.
Another top official said pilgrims had been advised not to undertake the journey. “Those already on the move have been asked to return,” he added.
Machail Mata Yatra, which started on July 25, was to conclude on September 5. Pilgrims trek a mountainous route of 32km to reach the temple shrine.
Declared terrorism-free over a decade ago, Kishtwar was rattled by the killing of BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajeet Parihar on November 1 last year, followed by the assassination of senior RSS leader Chandrakant Sharma and his security guard inside a health centre on April 9 this year.
Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Saturday announced cancellation of the upcoming annual Budha Amarnath Yatra to Mandi area of Poonch district.
Addressing mediapersons, VHP state president Leela Karan Sharma said Pakistan-sponsored terrorists posed a threat to the pilgrimage. The 10-day yatra had to begin on August 6. Besides, the Kousar Nag Yatra in Kulgam district has also been suspended.
“In view of the emerging security situation following the recovery of a US-made sniper rifle and claymore mine along the Amarnath Yatra track, we have decided to cancel the yatra to Budha Amarnath for the safety of pilgrims,” Sharma said.
Sharma was flanked by several other senior leaders, including Bajrang Dal national convener Sohan Singh Solanki. However, Poonch deputy magistrate Rahul Yadav said there was no official decision by the administration to cancel the pilgrimage. “In fact, we will hold a review meeting soon,” he added.
Solanki said over 25,000 pilgrims from across the country had registered themselves for the Budha Amarnath Yatra.
He said VHP international working president Alok Kumar will take part in a special prayer on August 5, and a limited number of pilgrims will offer prayers at the Budha Amarnath shrine on August 6.
Meanwhile, the Vaishno Devi Yatra in Reasi district will continue. “The pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi cave shrine is on. In fact, the rush of pilgrims has increased,” said an official.